If you buy something we recommend we may earn an afflilate commission
If smooth, soft skin is high on your beauty wishlist, squalane is the ingredient you need. The oil isn't a new addition to the ever-growing list of must-have ingredients (in fact it's long been in cult skin saviours such as the iconic Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and Omorovicza's Thermal Cleansing Balm ) but it really grabbed our attention with the launch of Biossance, the squalane-based, Reese Witherspoon-backed skincare brand which landed in the UK in January 2020, with squalane as the lead ingredient in its extensive range of products.
Don't confuse squalane (with an a) with squalene (with an e). The latter is an oil naturally produced in our skin. It's key in strengthening our skin barrier and in fact, we're born covered in it, but it declines as we age so topping it up with squalane (with an a) products is a good idea.
"Squalane [skincare] is almost identical to the natural occurring squalene in our skin," confirms skin expert Fiona Brackenbury. Because we naturally produce it, it's readily absorbed by our skin and can actually help regulate oil production, which makes it ideal for oily skin, she explains. "It brings suppleness and softness while increasing moisture and limiting water loss. It reduces redness and irritation as well as being non-comedogenic. There isn’t a skin type that wouldn’t benefit from this hero oil."
There isn’t a skin type that wouldn’t benefit from this hero oil
Squalane also makes for an excellent carrier, helping other ingredients to absorb, which is why you find it in so many of your skincare products, helping everything from retinol and lactic acid to BHAs and vitamin C along their merry way.
We're not the only ones who produce squalene (with an e). Traditionally the ingredient was harvested from shark liver oil, however the skincare world is making strides to ensure the ingredient is more sustainable, creating plant-based squalane (with an a) which is mainly derived from the olive fruit tree, or in the case of Biossance, sugar cane, which is even more eco than olives because it needs less water to grow. Biossance say that by using sustainable sugarcane they save two million sharks every year.
You can use squalane on your skin and body to moisturise and on your hair to tame flyaways and smooth frizz.
The best squalane skincare
Earlier this year Reese Witherspoon signed up as global brand ambassador for clean and sustainable beauty brand Biossance and called out this facial oil as a favourite from the range, saying on Instagram: "It’s luxurious, light and basically feels like a spa in a bottle. It's so incredibly moisturising, it's not greasy or heavy."
The oil was created to brighten, firm, and hydrate the skin while locking in moisture. "I not only fell in love with Biossance’s products, especially the Rose Oil, but also the innovative, female-led team and its mission towards a sustainable future. My skin has never felt healthier," she said.
Another hit from Biossance is the 100% Squalane Oil , £27. This multi-purpose oil is GTG's Victoria's favourite from the brand. She uses it for everything from an in-shower oil, to a cleanser to a moisturiser and is a particularly big fan of the pump which dispenses the perfect amount.
For beauty on a budget, you can't go wrong with this facial oil from indie brand Q+A. It absorbs quickly and leaves skin looking nourished, not greasy. The squalane in this is derived from olive oil and is a one-ingredient wonder. It leaves a light, healthy-looking sheen on the skin too.
The lip-hydrator: Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster, £24
Launching on October 11, this lip treatment glides on, smoothing fine lines and keeping your lips from getting dry as the temperature starts to cool off. It blends squalane with hyaluronic acid and peptides to make your lips look dewy and plump, plus it has water-trapping powers to keep moisture from the lower layers of the lips locked in, making them look fuller without that stinging feeling you often get with plumpling lip products.
Launches October 11
Every so often a little-known brand appears on the scene and is immediately loved by beauty editors . Spectacle skincare is one such example. It's age-proofing, hydrating, calming, protecting and a perfect base for makeup. It's a day and night cream, serum, eye cream and primer in one, that works on sensitive skins too. As well as squalane for it's supple, non-sticky finish, this has gallic acid, which is 60 times more powerful than kojic acid for pigmentation and is anti-inflammatory and can take down redness too. It has peptides in the mix too, as well as three weights of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide for barrier-support.
Being so well-tolerated by all skin types makes squalane a good, non-irritating ingredient for eye creams, which is why you'll find it in this luxe, bouncy feeling buy. It has an almost-mousse like texture, sinking in straight away, ready for eyeliner application on top. Shani Darden is facialist to Hollywood's loveliest complexions, including Jessica Alba, Emily Ratajkowski and Chrissy Teigen, so you're in safe hands with her products, which include squalane, peptides, ceramides and shea butter for a bright, smooth eye area. Our tester pumps this onto her eye, including in the dry corners, for healthy, smooth contours, despite regular rubbing and makeup removing which can leave the area irritated.
There's not a lot this gel to cream cleanser doesn't do. As well as banishing pore-clogging dirt and dead skin cells with PHAs, it hydrates too, as well as calming and healing with vitamin E and rosewater. Squalane dos the job of barrier-building, for an all-round cleanser from one of our favourite new British brands.
This cult body cream which launched way back in the eighties is non-greasy and leaves skin smooth, supple and silky thanks to squalane, cocoa butter and beta-carotene.
MORE GLOSS: The new skincare launches to treat post-summer pigmentation